Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where the Post got it very wrong on FPL..

Where the Palm Beach Post got it right…


On Sunday, September, 14, the Post made some keen observations on nuclear power. Ok, so it's a no-brainer really, but they deserve some credit for speaking up. Nuclear power is a bad plan. Of course it is not renewable or 'green' or in any way a responsible choice. It poses huge risks to public health, safety and the environment throughout its lifecycle—from extraction to generation. It doesn't make economic sense. It usurps tens-of-billions of dollars in financial resources from ratepayers and utility companies that should go into conservation methods and truly renewable, clean, decentralized energy production. By the time any of these proposed reactors are up and ready to be permitted for power generation, the window for shifting towards sustainable alternatives will be shut in our faces. We may be well beyond the climate tipping point (and scientists keep telling us we are closer to it than they have thought before.)

…And where they have it way wrong


Gas-fired power generation is also far from a clean energy source; maybe as far as nukes (although one could say fossil fuels are slightly more renewable, I suppose). Contrary to the Post Editorial Board opinion, the West County Energy Center (WCEC) is a prime example of why. This plant at total capacity will emit over 12 Million tons of CO2 on its own. Add in the Riviera and Canaveral projects and make that around 20 million tons of CO2 that FPL is committing its ratepayers to. Now add to that the impacts of drilling, storing, transporting and fighting wars for the stuff. It is part and parcel of the same Energy Empire that is running this country, and this planet, into oblivion. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, no more natural than coal or oil. The fact that it burns less filthy than those fuels has been used as an excuse to depend on it to catastrophic excess. Today, the peak oil crisis is paralleled by an even steeper peak, what some have called the 'dash for gas', or what the analysts with the Colorado-based Community Office for Resource Efficiency have dubbed 'methane madness.' Check out their study at: http://www.oilcrisis.com/gas/primer/ (It is dated, but gives you a glimpse of the picture, which is only getting worse.) The addition of WCEC, Riviera and Canaveral to the grid will add 6200 megawatts of gas-fired electricity, bumping Florida up to more than 70% dependency on this fuel source. This is the polar opposite of what the praised Florida Senate Bill 888 intended to do back in 2005.

As for water, units 1 and 2 alone will suck near 7 billion gallons a year from aquifer and surficial sources, making them the largest single consumer of water in Palm Beach County. The only portion of the WCEC committed to re-use is unit 3. And that water is proposed to be piped 15 miles from our eastern corridor treatment facility, when it should be used right here along the urban core, where water demand is highest and salt water intrusion into our wells is the most severe. The Post also fails to mention FPL's plan to inject WCEC waste water into our aquifer? The WCEC will operate one of the largest deep well injection systems in Florida—the only industrial operation forcing its power plant waste underground—up to 21 millions gallons every day.

And shame on the Post for applauding the blackmail of Riviera residents and officials. FPL rakes in billions in annual profits—that is their primary motive. They let that old plant at the port belch out carcinogens onto surrounding communities for 62 years, over 20 of those disregarding federal Clean Air Act standards, because it made money to do so. To offer clean-up now is nothing more than a shallow public relations move to attempt building coerced support for the new WCEC plant in Loxahatchee (which will be the largest fossil fuel burner in the entire United States.) When several of us suggested two years ago in front of an Administrative Law Judge that cleaning up Riviera be made a priority before approval the first two units of the WCEC, they scoffed at us. Now that they are facing a mounting campaign of public pressure and litigation against the WCEC, and they pull it out of their back pocket. Marketing genius, if you own their stocks, but pretty damn disingenuous if you're the rest of us.

Speaking of litigation, it has been clear from the get-go that this plants approval is in violation of the NEPA, RICO and a couple dozen other state and federal laws. So, we feel pretty good about our lawsuits. And if we succeed in getting this goliath out of the Everglades, it will be with little credit to the Post Editorial Board, Randy Schultz in particular, who seems more concerned with holding a petty grudge against our Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition than with learning the true impacts of this monstrosity.

We have the tools and the urgency to make our breaks with the energy regime as sharp, clean and immediate as possible. But it means fighting all the bad proposals and policy in front of us, in order to make space for other options. Now is not the time to compromise for a greener apocalypse. The question: is there the will to do what needs to done? The Post indicates a 'no', and the Party Politics in this year's national elections seem to concur. But, from down here in the grassroots, where real change comes from, we beg to differ. We know were not alone... and we invite all of you out there to join us this Saturday, September 20, for a 10am rally and march, starting at the Everglades STA 1E site, ending at the WCEC construction site at the Palm Beach Aggregates rock mine and CERP project… From the swamps to the streets!

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, I suggest checking out the PBCEC, Green Party, et al, document on the potential future for energy options in Florida: http://pbcec.blogspot.com/2008/04/green-paper-on-climate-change-and.html

s/panagioti tsolkas, co-chair of PBCEC

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